Musician Deborah Hurwitz, who helped shape the sound of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys and other major stage shows, is striking out on her own as a singer. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, the former musical prodigy hopes to make a name as a solo performer.
By age 12, Deborah Hurwitz was performing classical music on stage. But she loved the freedom of popular music, especially Broadway music, and went on to perform, conduct and design the sound of such Broadway hits as Miss Saigon, "Mamma Mia! and most recently Jersey Boys, which tells the story of the pop group the Four Seasons.
"I did my first Broadway show when I was 22, and I played a bunch of them," said Deborah Hurwitz. "And my long-term theater involvement was "Miss Saigon" for several years and then Mamma Mia! for several years, and then Jersey Boys, with lots of other independent productions in between."
Hurwitz performs on-stage in the hit show Jersey Boys. She also works as music designer, using a synthesizer to expand the range of the small orchestra for a richer sound.
"I'm proud to say that with Jersey Boys, I pioneered a system that had not been put into place before that combined the live elements with some machine sampled elements, and it serves to create this sound," she said. "It's an extremely full sound and people are always very surprised that there are only nine people in the band."
Hurwitz has also worked with singers such as Cyndi Lauper, Cher, Sarah Brightman, Sinead O'Connor and Gloria Estefan, helping them create a rich sound on stage. In her work on Jersey Boys, she is responsible for getting the same sound in every production - from New York to London.
"What really resonates with me and moves me is texture and depth - a lush sound, a full sound, a beautiful sound," said Hurwitz. "So it can be full orchestra. It can be stacked beats a mile high, just drums and percussion for days. It can be vocal textures."
Hurwitz brought her own vocal textures to an album - the first released under her own name - called Naked Wire.
She says the songs cover a range of emotions - from a tale of lost love and abandonment to one of new love and acceptance, called Mirror. She says it conveys a message of commitment, despite a lover's flaws.
"You don't have to be perfect," said Deborah Hurwitz. "I love you with your flaws and your imperfections, and that's actually what's beautiful to me is to see yourself as a whole being. How extraordinary, how fragile we are."
Deborah Hurwitz divides her time between Los Angeles and New York, and plans to continue working on Broadway while pursing her career as a singer and composer.